FIJI BANKS TO RESUME LENDING AFTER THREE-WEEK FREEZE

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 24, 1999 - PACNEWS)---The Fiji Government has brokered an agreement with banks and financial institutions in Fiji to resume lending, just three weeks after lending institutions stopped providing personal loans after the introduction of the Consumer Credit Act.

The Association of Banks said its members are unable to comply with many provisions of the Act, which makes it illegal for credit providers to extend credit unless they are in full compliance with the Act.

A joint statement on Wednesday by Association Chairman Brian Bliss and Commerce Minister Anup Kumar said the decision to resume consumer lending follows the Government’s approval to defer the application of a number of provisions of the Consumer Credit Act, allowing banks more time to make arrangements to comply with the changes.

Lending institutions had called for a deferment of certain provisions of the Act while they modified computer systems, documentation, letters of offers and loan agreements.

They now have been given until July 1, 2000 to comply.

According to Bliss, the impasse had cost lending institutions about $FJ 10 million (US$ 5.2 million).

"Those loans would have been for purchasing goods and services at a rate of $FJ 2.5 million a week. It has been a challenging time for all us," he said.

The statement said large parts of the Act will continue to be in force and would substantially enhance consumer rights.

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